I found the joy of reading aloud. My dog helped me find it.
A few years ago,my golden retriever and I started reading aloud with children in libraries and schools as part of our therapy dog work. Junior is a registered Reading Education Assistance Dog.
He is a great listener.
When children sit down to read to him, they know they have someone interested in them. It does not matter how well they read, Junior senses that this time is special. He curls up, often shuts his eyes and just enjoys the reading. It is a magical time. All three of us feel fully present and on a journey through our imagined world together. Reading becomes fun.
As I join in the magic of these reading sessions between young reader and canine, I rediscover the joy of reading to someone. I learn that reading aloud together reaches the heart. Reading to each other connects us in a way few other things can. It implies trust. The reader trusts that the quality of the reading is not as important as the gift of the time together. I see a way to connect through reading.
I know that the joy of being read to or reading to someone has no age limit. When I visited my mother, who was in the late stages of the ravages of a stroke and Parkinson’s disease, I often dreaded our visits and the silent time that her inability to talk created. Then I began to rlead to her from a book she had loved all her life. As I read one of her well-loved stories , my mother smiled, looked at me and whispered, ” I know this story”. It was our last verbal exchange. But I knew we had shared a gift of love that needed no other words. After that, I read to her at every visit. Sometimes I read my favorite books, sometimes hers. It didn’t matter. We were connecting. Of all the things I did for her in her last days, I am proudest of the times I read to her.
Books have always been significant milestones, teachers and havens for me, creating who I am and who I will become. So too have my precious dog companions who shared my childhood and adult life. Today reading with my dog connects me to the joy of reading with that special companion who joyfully shares my journey.